The 34-year-old center fielder has been on the disabled list since the start of the season. He did not play in any exhibition games from March 1 until March 24 because of an oblique injury and finished spring training 1-for-14.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone disclosed April 3 that Ellsbury had injured a hip during his rehabilitation, and Ellsbury received a cortisone injection last Tuesday. The hope had been he would resume baseball activities last Friday, but Boone said Monday the heel pain had caused another setback. Boone said the oblique had healed.
“He’s had it at times in the past,” Boone said of the heel injury. “Look, I don’t think it’s a serious issue, but it is something that popped up along the way with his hip stuff.”
Boone said the team believes the oblique issue that started this string of injuries has “passed.” After being evaluated by a hip specialist in New York last week, the backup outfielder is currently back at the Yankees’ facility in Tampa, Florida, where he has only been limited to some work off the batting tee and a little throwing.
“He’s just got to get right to be able to start back on baseball activities, and then getting into and playing in games and coming out and getting through that,” Boone said. “When that is, I’d be guessing right now.”
Ellsbury, who lost the starting center field job to Aaron Hicks last season, is guaranteed $21,142,857 annually through 2020 as part of a $153 million, seven-year contract that includes a $21 million team option for 2021 with a $5 million buyout.
Ellsbury hit .264 with seven homers and 39 RBIs in 112 games last season. He was sidelined from May 24 until June 26 after suffering a concussion while making a spectacular catch against the outfield wall to rob Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar.
Not all the Yankees’ recent injury news has been as worrisome. Boone said Monday that first baseman Greg Bird is progressing well from last month’s ankle surgery, and appears to be trending “in the right direction.”
“We’re optimistic that it’s going to be maybe on the shorter side of things,” Boone said. “It looks like he’s kind of passed every test so far.”
Bird said earlier this month that he believed he’d be back to playing baseball sometime in May. His hope is that he won’t have a long rehab stint, and will be back with the big-league team next month.
About four hours before Monday’s game, Bird was on the field at Yankee Stadium throwing and fielding softly-hit ground balls while on his knees.
“The fact that he’s doing all these things is a really encouraging sign,” Boone said. “I would say that I’m excited about his progress and where he is, and hopefully it’ll be a little bit on the shorter side.”
In addition to Bird, the Yankees are slowly learning more about injured third baseman Brandon Drury, too. Drury still is awaiting all the results of extensive testing he underwent to his head, brain and body last week after going on the 10-day disabled list April 7 with migraines and blurred vision.
Drury told reporters Monday that he was just put on a cycle of anti-inflammatory medication. His migraine specialist believes that will “help relieve some of that pressure and tension” that’s causing the blurred vision.
The 25-year-old who is hitting .270 across his four seasons, said he has been dealing with these issues for several years. He didn’t tell the Yankees about it until the day before he went on the DL. As for how often he experiences the blurry vision when he walks to the batter’s box, he said: “All the time.”
“It’s something I battle pretty much all the time, especially with physical activity, whether it’s a workout or playing ball or whatever it is,” Drury said. “It just gets worse with activity.
“I know what it was like before I had it, and I know what it’s like now. I’m going to be able to tell when I’m out there running around, even during batting practice, I’m going to tell if it’s better or not.”
For the first time since coming out of the Yankees’ April 6 game against the Orioles, Drury went through some modified baseball activity ahead of Monday’s game. He fielded ground balls and went took a few rounds of batting practice.
“It’s remarkable that he’s been the player he’s been, dealing with that off and on,” Boone said. “And it’s part of the reason that our evaluation of him when we were set to acquire him – the upside that we see in this guy – is because the skillset is really impressive.
“And maybe this explains why he hasn’t been an even better player to this point in his career. Hopefully we’re getting those answers that we’re getting rid of this as an issue, and it really allows him to take off as a player.”
Drury, who came to the Yankees in a trade at the start of spring training, said he isn’t scared of what the final prognosis will be concerning his migraine and vision problem. He’s energized by the fact he is finally addressing this.
“I’m excited because I want to get it figured out,” he said. “I’ve been playing ball like this and I don’t want to feel like that’s the player I am.”